It may come as no surprise that according to a survey made by The
Guardian in 2015, only 38% of people are happy at work. This problem is
therefore to be taken very seriousely.
There are a number of reasons why you may be unhappy at work:
You’re unfulfilled by your work
You may be unhappy if you are no longer excited about the work that you are doing - there may be nothing new, it’s undemanding, it’s not stretching you and you simply don’t feel a sense of growth. This may be compounded by the feeling that there is no hope for growth in the future. This may be due to a lack of training opportunities, no prospect of additional responsibilities, or indeed, promotion. You might be left with the feeling that you are stuck where you are, bored.
A Clash of Values
If you’re unhappy at work, it may be because there isn’t a value fit. If your values are not matched by the actual operational values of your company, department or those that you work with, you will be at odds. It may be that your values are aligned with the aspirational values of the firm, but if these are not how the organisation operates in practice, you’re likely to be unhappy. Furthermore, it may be that over time, as you move to a different chapter of life, your values have shifted and different things have become a priority, which are no longer congruent with how you are working or what you are working on. Of course, it’s also possible that your values have remained constant, yet the values of your organisation or its culture have shifted, and no longer correlate with your priorities or beliefs.
You may be unhappy at work if you feel under-valued and that your contribution is not explicitly appreciated by your managers and colleagues. If there’s no sense of recognition - perhaps publicly - for your achievements, you will feel under-valued.
Changes within an organisation, or perhaps not even changes per se but the prospect of changes, can create an atmosphere of uncertainty, vulnerability and will prove to be unsettling to the point that it makes you stressed. This will be made even stronger if the managers who know what’s going on fail to communicate clear and decisive direction, so that at least people feel certain about where they stand. If your company makes seasonal redundancies or if you’re aware that the company is looking to cut costs, this can also lead to stress that makes you unhappy at work.
A Sense of Self-Determination and Autonomy
One study involving over 400,000 people in 63 countries found that autonomy and control over one’s life matters more to happiness than money. In a work context, this requires a sense of control over your work, but — just as important — over your time too. Flexibility is key, and employees with flexible work schedules report better well-being than those with less control over time and place (http://fortune.com/2015/09/26/happy-work-tips/).
Being Part of a Group or Community
Your unhappiness at work may be because you are not part of coherent group that shares a common goal that everyone is striving towards under some degree of leadership. It helps if you like the people you are working with, and this goes back to our point on shared values and company culture. If you are in a work group that lacks cohesion, common direction, or a sense of team, it is likely that you will be unhappy. Group effort, leadership, and common goals are important and if you haven’t got those, it might be why you are unhappy. Moreover, Gallup’s research (http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/511/item-10-best-friend-work.aspx) has found that people with a ‘best friend’ at work feel more productive and engaged. A sense of isolation may lead you to feeling unhappy in your job.
A number of employees have been put under such intense workloads that they can barely think; they don’t have a sense of control, they are completely submerged by the demands put upon them, and they never get that sense of completion and victory for actually finishing a project. So intense was the resulting unhappiness at work, that many have opted to look for a new role elsewhere.
Finally, pay is important. You want to feel that your remuneration reflects the effort that you are putting in and the results that you are achieving. When you suspect that there is a schism between the amount of effort you are putting into your work, and the reward you are receiving, it is natural to feel like there’s not much point in doing your job. In turn, this goes back to feeling of being valued and appreciated.